“The open and transparent communication we have on any subject,” Robinson said, with profitability key.
A programme called One Team recognises the contribution all Vantage staff make towards success. Every four months, a business plan is published showing the bottom line profitability expected of each centre each month, with customer satisfaction scores a primary measure.
A percentage bonus, separate to any other existing commission or incentive, is then available on achieving the target. It’s shared equally among all staff in the successful centre, with the exception of the leadership. A 100% score in customer satisfaction scores triggers the bonus payment in each four-month period.
“Every week, each centre will have a five-minute meeting and discuss the month’s forecast. It means staff understand what is happening in the business on a real-time basis,” said Robinson.
Vantage is the third-biggest Toyota operator in the UK by volume, but Robinson is more proud of it being among the best for customer satisfaction and works hard to ensure financial incentives are not the only factors driving the right behaviour. “We talk to staff to see what success means to them and I’m most disappointed if it is money and not pride. In our Toyota businesses, Jon runs a balanced score card across the division and the centre at number one doesn’t want to lose that status. The centre at number 10 wants to improve. Pride drives both ambitions.”
Robinson believes the initiative reflects Vantage’s commitment to decentralised responsibility and empowerment. The central services team, for example, should not be seen as an adoption of a top-down management ethos, Robinson believes, but more to do with the need for someone in the centre to take 100% responsibility for the business and full accountability.
Beyond this, he believes in staff having a different sort of ownership: “When I was a general manager, I treated the business as if it was my own. I want our general managers to do the same.”
What power does this approach bring with it?
“It’s very difficult to make a mistake in Vantage that you will be taken to task over,” said Robinson.
“You can make a mistake as long as you’re prepared to be challenged over it – why did it happen, what could have been done to prevent it and how will you prevent it happening again? Then it’s go away and sort it out, with whatever help you need.”
The motivation for this approach is for “never-ending improvement”.